Be Prepared for Arizona Monsoon
In Arizona we experience monsoon season of high temperatures, high winds, and high moisture, resulting in potentially fatal weather. The term “monsoon” comes from the Arabic “mausim” meaning “season” or “wind shift.”
When Is Arizona’s Monsoon?
Up until early 2000 Arizona’s monsoon various from year to year in starting date and duration. The Arizona monsoon officially began after the third consecutive day of dew points above 55 degrees. On average this occurred around July 7 with the monsoon continuing for the next two months. In 2008 the National Weather Service decided to take the speculation out of monsoon start and end dates. Now on June 15 is the first day of monsoon season, and September 30 is the last day. This is basically to take the focus off whether or not a storm was considered a monsoon storm or not, and have people be more concerned with safety.
What Happens During Monsoon?
Monsoon storms range from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms. They can produce tornadoes, though that is very rare. Typically, Arizona monsoon storms start with heavy winds sometimes resulting in a visible wall of dust hundreds of feet high moving across the Valley. These dust storms normally go with frequent thunder and lightning often leading to heavy downpours. Monsoon rains average about 2-1/2″, about 1/3 of yearly rainfall.
Is There Damage During Monsoon Storms?
Damage can occur from high winds, or from fragments being tossed by those high winds. It is not uncommon for trees to be downed, power lines to be damaged, and roof damage to occur. As you might imagine, homes that are not as sturdy, like some manufactured homes, are more susceptible to wind damage. And sometimes power outages for short periods of time are not surprising.
Dust devils are also associated with monsoons. Try to not getting caught in one.
Arizona rarely experiences tornadoes. You might see a microburst now and then.
If you are outside hiking or camping, be aware of quick wind shifts, quick cooling of temperature and increasing wind velocity. These are signals for thunderstorm activity.
If you are on a boat, get to land.
If your hair starts to stand on end, that is a sign of electricity and you may be close to be struck by lightning. Drop to your knees and cover your head.
Monsoon thunderstorms usually occur in July and August. The temperature is typically around 105 degrees during monsoon season.
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